And what about the costs and fees of a lawyer in France ?


In France, the profession of Avocat (which is the french title most equivalent to american lawyer or
english sollicitor) has a special meaning essentially for historical reasons. It was by tradition an upper
class noble profession with a strong tradition of conservative and reaction opinion against politics
excess or bureaucracy and more or less altruism apparence. But it has changed now : it becomes a
technical art needing good knowledges, strong personality, experience and intuition. The profession
is happily more democratic (from 5.000 avocats about in 1975 to about 50.000 now) and the usual
costs and fees has not changed a lot in constant value in the period. Perhaps in the old days the
avocats were working in better conditions because they were less in number. It is different now and
firms must run into rude competition in an hard economical context due to the french political problem
in relation with heavy social security charges, obsolete tax system, and technocracies.

That's why our profession services must be more considered in a business way where rentabiliy and
efficient aims is consacred as as an omnipresent rule.

Lawyer services are divised in 3 usual matters which can be separated.

Audit phasis :

It is the listening phasis in order to know "what is going wrong" and it is the most important period in
the approach of a case : a lawyer who does not listen to his client can certainly not participate rapidly
and efficiently to a prevention or a solution of a conflict.
Listening takes time which must be rewarded (my fees : USD 150/hour).

Advise phasis :

This period is more technical. It is to give a pronostic in order to fix if the case is "pleadable" that is to
say if it can be presented in front of Courts in good conditions, and in the affirmative in which court(s)
it can be.Advising and negociating takes time which must be rewarded (my fees : USD 250/hour).

And what about conciliation ? People must be very sceptical about its systematic approach for 2
reasons. First, people are no more afraid about courts because globaly their "outputs" are too slow et
their aspect is more or less in favour of debtors (perhaps excessively). Secondly, a debtor who can
discuss is never in a hurry. That means that a compromise approach without coercition is a weak
manner that create a waste of time and energy in 9 case on 10. This can be fatal, especially in cas of
conflict submitted to short prescription dead-line (cf. transportation, loans, insurance, etc ...). The
principe of "knocking out first, discussing after" is the best way to win the cause of the client ... But
the problem is also to know how to stop and get the place for an arrangment ... Easy to say, but
really difficult to advise, especially in a context of passion.

Mission phasis

When the pronostic is accepted by the client, it is important to deal the cost of the mission and its
duration. My principe is to define with the client in a cool way a global et contractual "except
unexpected" (for instance, in case of procedure incident) or "particular prestations" (par exemple to
obtain an accelerated proceeding).

Here is my tariff :

- contractual divorce without child and fortune : USD 1,500 without taxes.
- contractual divorce with child and/or fortune : to negociate.
- emergency proceeding with case inferior to € 15.000 : USD 2.000 without taxes.
- emergency proceeding with case superior to € 15.000 : to negociate.
- ordinary procedure in other basic fields : at least USD 2,500 without taxes (outside : to negociate).

A special fee for results can be considered but I refuse a "ordinary" file exclusively remunerated by
reference to this system because of aleas which occure generally a proceeding in courts and actual
problems of public service of Justice in France. In others terms, I can not work efficiently in difficult
files and I find it immoral this system in case of "easy" success and unequitable for the client. I do
prefer a "tied" remuneration but certain to give me the distance and motivation in sufficient conditions.
A special fee for results can only be considered in cases superior to USD 50,000 approx).

An ordinary emergency mission is during about 3 months and an ordinary instance 2 years in an
optimistic way, the corresponding charge seems to me easily acceptable for people normaly
educated.

Copyright 1997-2003 by André Roulleaux Dugage. This page cannot be duplicated without his
previous express agreement.This page contains a strict private opinion and can not be considered
as an institutional communication.